SOUTH EL MONTE — An off-duty sheriff’s deputy shot a man in the face Friday after the two engaged in a gun battle on the 60 Freeway, sheriff’s officials said.
Armando Gonzalez, a 25-year-old believed to be a Mexican national living in Maywood, was being held at a hospital on suspicion of attempted murder, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
The deputy, whose name was not released Saturday, was driving home about 2:20 p.m. on the eastbound freeway at Santa Anita Avenue when the suspect pulled alongside him in a Ford Expedition and “motioned to the deputy,” Capt. Michael Parker said in a written statement.
“The deputy motioned back as if to ask what the suspect wanted,” Parker said.
He then saw the suspect reach down, and accelerated away from the Expedition fearing that the suspect may be arming himself, the captain said.
“The suspect again caught up along the left side of the deputy’s car, pulled out a handgun and fired at the deputy,” Parker said.
“The deputy was forced to fire back after the suspect to save his life,” Lt. John Hocking said.
Investigators said the deputy managed to maneuver away from the suspect and pull over on the side of the freeway.
While the deputy was stopped along the roadway, Gonzalez pulled up behind him and again opened fire, officials said.
The suspect, who was shot in the face in one of the exchanges, then exited the freeway and pulled over.
California Highway Patrol dispatchers received several calls from witnesses reporting the shoot-out, and soon after, sheriff’s officials received calls that a man was standing near a vehicle with blood on his shirt.
The suspect was hospitalized in critical condition, Parker said, and a handgun was found in his car.
The deputy, who is assigned to the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles, was not hurt, authorities said.
“With all evidence right now, investigators believe (Gonzalez) is from Mexico and not a U.S. citizen,” Hocking said. “They’re basing that on items they found in the car.”
Gonzalez remained hospitalized Saturday in critical condition, Hocking said.
According to sheriff’s booking records, he was being held in lieu of $1 million bail. No information was available regarding his initial court appearance.